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by World Music Network September 11, 2014


A Summer Of Artist's Strikes And Unrest In France

Summer is practically over, the majority of music festivals in Europe have already been taken place. Whereas these festivals usually amount to a considerable income and employment for musicians and technicians, the French art workers have experienced significant issues as their festival season has been thrown in dissaray due to many strikes and protests. Since 1 July 2014, the French government has severely revised the intermittents du spectacle, a unique unemployment policy, which -until recently- which compensated arts and entertainment workers as long as they were able to show that they worked for at least 507 hours for their craft over the last 10 and a half months. This gave musicians, for example, an opportunity to focus on their art without the need for 'day job' such as waiting tables.

The special unemployment system provided benefits to approximately 100,000 creative workers, yet the arrangement has also encountered problems such as abuse. With the financial crisis, French government argues that the system of intermittents is simply not viable as it responsible for a large part of the social security's unemployment benefit deficit which is over €1bn. In an ideal world, artists would be able to make a living out of their art, and projects would be financially sustainable, yet the periods of unemployment between contracts makes this a challenge for some.

So should governments interfere when reality turns out to be different? Surely space ought to be made for the artistic enrichment of society? In the case of world music, another aspect can also be highlighted: as its musicians and events celebrate multiculturalism, it tells a different story regarding integration and multiculturalism. Should it not be supported and encouraged by the government? 

This summer however, popular gatherings such as La Réunion’s Sakifo festival and Rio Loco festival in Toulouse sacrificed some of their star line-ups, the AvignonFestival had to cancel its opening night, whilst Jane Birkin cancelled one of her performances to express her solidarity to the protest movement. New talks about the intermittentsare going to take place in Autumn, which is when protests are likely to erupt again.